Displacement Welcomed, a short film written and directed by Evan Kidd, was an official selection at the Viewster Online Film Festival in Zurich Switzerland. The story follows Skylar, who has returned home from abroad to find that her father is missing and Norma, a homeless woman traveling with a few precious possessions. I was given the opportunity to speak with Evan and the stars of the film, Avery Hobbs and April Vickery, about the tough subject matter of the film, their outlook on female roles in mainstream movies, and the valuable lessons they have learned throughout the making and marketing of Displacement Welcomed.
Travis Losh (Audiences Everywhere): Lately in independent film, there’s been a surge of filmmakers from rural areas and films that take place in rural regions. In that regard, do you have any local influences or film directors whose approach to regionalism inspires you?
Evan Kidd: There’s a quote by one of my favorite filmmakers, Kevin Smith. He always says, “Use what you have around you and what you have access to in your films.” Whether you’re from a big city or a small town, there are definitely stories to be told. “Local” can take many different forms. There are always opportunities and variety and locations you have around you, so as an Independent filmmaker, something I try to do, no matter what, is access what I have around me. I know Jeff Nichols (Mud, Shotgun Stories) is from the south and he did a lot of work revolving around that rural area. I think there are a lot of people that take advantage of what is around them to make a quality film.
AE: Is there any particular experience you’ve had with local homelessness or displacement that inspired this story? What connection do you have to this very important topic?
Evan: The biggest thing that inspired the making of the film, I took a trip to Las Vegas about two years ago. While there, I noted they have a pretty sizable homeless population beneath all the glitz and glamour of the city/casinos. And all of those people are individuals with very rich and interesting stories. I remember seeing this certain individual with a sign that said, “I don’t need anything, just talk to me.” I thought that was fascinating so I ended up chatting with him for a few minutes. Just spending those few minutes with him really seemed to brighten his day. I can’t say that me just talking to him solved all of his problems, but I think it may have helped him feel a little more human at the end of the day. All of these homeless people are someone’s son or someone’s daughter. So, when I made Displacement Welcomed, I wanted to tell a story of a homeless person and share that experience, to relay the message that there is a little more to these people that what you see on the outside.
April Vickery: I actually had sent my submission in to Evan without really knowing much about this film. When he sent me the synopsis and let me know a little more about it, it really hit close to home for me, and I almost turned it down because it offered a lot of things that I did not want to address or have to tap into from my own personal experience. I grew up in a situation where I knew a lot of people that had foster parents. I knew a lot of adults, and unfortunately a lot of teenagers, who actually chose the route of living on the streets instead of living in these foster homes and halfway houses… I never wanted to get to this point where I would be interviewed or have to speak about it, but I couldn’t turn it down. It was one of those things where you have to face it head on and the way that Evan had written it was perfect. It was everything I already knew of it. Just like he said about how he was talking to the man on the street, he might not have solved all of his problems, but he helped in that moment. Like, with the interaction between the two characters, I have seen that first hand, how much change that can bring in someone’s day, in someone’s week, in someone’s year, in someone’s life, and I just wanted to be a part of it. It was something that I wanted to be able hold onto for the rest of my life and to be proud that I was a part of this.
Avery Hobbs: Evan had sent out an email on our call board and I read the synopsis thinking that it was not the normal synopsis I would read for a movie call. I had never done anything with film before and I read the script and thought it was really cool. It was mainly the idea of the film that I liked but in going to New York and living around the DC area, I have seen it a lot. So, I always kind of had a connection to it so, it wasn’t hard to connect to the character.
AE: A lot of people think of short stories as being less complex than novels, while anyone who’s tried to write both knows that isn’t true. Can you speak to a moment about the particular challenges that exist in making a short film?
Evan: I think there are a lot of things people can do with a short form narrative that you can’t do with a feature narrative. Yes, you have a lot less time to work with, but at the same time, in this day and age, people may not be looking for something as long from. They may not want to make that hour and a half commitment. That’s not to knock feature films at all; I’m actually writing a feature film at the moment and it is definitely a completely different animal. But I think short form narrative really affords you something as a writer where you have to be brief, you have to be concise, and you have to get to the point. A lot times that is almost more liberating because you don’t have as much time to develop walls around characters to make them more comfortable, less comfortable, you just have to jump one hundred and ten percent and immerse yourself and your characters into the story. With Displacement Welcomed it was quick, the whole film happens in about sixteen minutes. During those sixteen minutes there are a lot of emotional ups and downs and turns and tumbles. Really, something for every character to deal with, every character to grapple with. No one is worrying about one thing for very long, because there is always another issue, or another topic that comes up. In this day and age, you have more media like Vine, Instagram, where things are just seconds long and people are used to short from narrative. So, I think in a way short film, in the year twenty fourteen, is getting a better platform than it has ever had. From online, across film festivals, there are even entire film distribution sites just for short films. I definitely think it is an exciting time to be working in short form narrative.
AE: Plus social media and electronic format opening up audience possibilities; would you say that short film is on course to become more important in the near future?
Evan: Yeah, I definitely do think that at this time, when people are almost used to short film content. That is not to insult the audience or say that their attention span is not long enough to handle a feature, because there are people that watch Netflix all the time. People have access to everything. You can watch a three hour movie, or three hours worth of six second videos on Vine. It is amazing the amount of opportunity and the amount of capabilities and options you have as a consumer. So, as someone working in short film or someone who watches a lot of short film, I think it is just going to get better as time goes on. The internet is really opening things up for short film; it is easier now than it was ten years ago. Yeah, there is a lot more content, but you can get a better audience, a better platform, and you can get a lot more people to see your work. Ten years ago the only way to really see a short film was either A: go to festivals or B: order DVD’s with short films on them. Where we are now, you can watch hundreds of short films online in a day. So, you can consume more than you can even make sense of. I think it is very exciting and we are going to see a lot of growth as the future continues.